Passover is a celebration of freedom from slavery and the end of oppression. How does it make sense to exploit and eat animals that have been oppressed and held captive for a holiday celebrating freedom?
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The Passover history
Passover is a Jewish holiday about freedom. It commemorates liberation of the Israelites from ancient Egypt and their Exodus from slavery. This eight-day festival happens in the spring during the Hebrew month of Nissan. This year, the first seder starts at sundown on April 10 with the second seder the following night. If you have never attended a seder before, call a Jewish friend and politely invite yourself over.
A traditional Passover seder is a ritual that is conducted as part of the overall Passover observance and includes reading from a book called a Haggadah. This book tells the story of the holiday dating back to ancient Egypt.
Like with many religions, there are several degrees of Jewish observance and some families read the entire Haggadah, while others do a faster version. However, all seders contain a festive meal and seder plate. The plate is a nicely decorated centerpiece with symbolic foods. Needless to say, don't eat off this plate until the designated time!
I don't mind taking the extra time in order to save lives. After all, Passover is a celebration of freedom.
You probably know it's forbidden to eat bread on Passover. This is to remember what the Jews ate when they escaped Egypt. They didn't have time for their bread to rise and ate flat unleavened bread, otherwise known as matzo. In Hebrew, this forbidden bread is called Chametz and defined as all leavened grain and anything made with yeast. So, besides bread, the forbidden foods include cake, cookies, cereal, pasta, wheat, barely spelt, rye and oats. And to make things more complicated, the tradition for Ashkenazi Jews includes not eating corn, rice, peas, beans and, yes, even tofu, since it's a soybean. The good news is that quinoa is permitted because it's a seed, not a grain.
Our vegan life
Each year at Passover, I make a seder for my son Noah. We are both vegan and follow a plant-based diet because we love animals. We don't eat meat, fish, dairy, eggs or any products containing animal ingredients, like gelatin or honey.
I don't mind taking the extra time to find humane alternatives in order to save lives. After all, Passover is a celebration of freedom from slavery and no longer being oppressed and held captive.
(Photo: Nata_Vkusidey via Getty Images)
Here are a few essential ceremonial items, and how you can keep them vegan.
Most matzo is vegan since the main ingredients are flour and water; just be sure not to purchase egg matzo. Three pieces of matzo are placed on the table in a special matzo covering. I still use the one Noah made for me in kindergarten.
Wine and grape juice
Seders include wine for adults and grape juice for children. There are four cups of wine or grape juice throughout the meal that are drunken out of beautiful silver Kiddush cups. It may come as a surprise to you that not all wines are vegan, but there are many vegan wines.
Barnivore is a great resource for searching for vegan wines. You can also contact or research individual brands for their refining agents and decide what is acceptable to you in terms of cross-contamination.
Lighting the candles
On the first two nights of Passover, candles are lit. As long as you don't use beeswax candles, you are good to go!
Hopefully one day all species will be free from oppression.
A vegan seder plate
This food is mostly for decoration, although some of it is eaten at specific times during the seder. I have consulted multiple sources to create our vegan Passover seder plate; you can be creative and add your own vegan flair.
We love lambs and of course don't eat them, but we also don't want a body part on our seder plate even just for decoration. I use a beet instead of a blood-red bone. Beets are dark in colour and can symbolize the bloodshed of the slaves.
No eggs for us! Free range eggs are not a real thing and the egg industry is built on lies and endless cruelty. If chickens cannot give us permission, we don't take what is not ours. Eggs are a symbol of new life and hope for the future and the round shape is the cycle of life. Luckily there are endless alternatives to round foods. I typically use a little white turnip. Other ideas are oranges, avocado pits, or even a plastic or wooden toy egg.
Vegan approved! These are usually horseradish root (and no horses were killed in the growing of this veggie)! Other choices include bitter greens like dandelion or radish.
Parsley is dipped in salt water and represents the salty tears of the slaves in Egypt. Other vegetables that can be used are potato, celery or a small slice of onion.
It's usually romaine lettuce and eaten with the second portion of the bitter herbs.
This is typically a sweet mixture and can easily be made vegan. It's made with chopped apples, walnuts, spices, and red wine or grape juice. If the recipe calls for honey I swap it for agave nectar. Freshly ground cinnamon tastes great sprinkled on top!
This piece of matzo is hidden during the seder for kids to search for later. The seder cannot be completed until the afikomen is found and everyone at the table eats a small piece. Think of it as a matzo treasure hunt that concludes the meal, though at many seders the joyous songs go long into the night in celebration of freedom around the world.
Hopefully one day all species will be free from oppression.
Chag sameach! Happy Passover!
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This Chocolate Toffee Matzo Brittle is perfect for those craving something sweet and crunchy this Passover. The sweetness of the chocolate and toffee paired with the crunch of matzo makes for a decadent dessert. Get the recipe at Very Culinary
In between breakfast and lunch? This brisket matzo bruschetta is for you. Get the recipe at The Crepes Of Wrath
Trade in your granola for mazto to add a crunch to your yogurt snack. We suggest not letting this sit because no one wants soggy matzo. Get the recipe at Proof Of The Pudding
Lovers of more savoury flavours will love these scallion pancakes that look dangerously like latkes, which means they won't last long in the house. Get the recipe at What Jew Wanna Eat
Dessert lovers are limited to matzo meal cakes that never taste as good as they sound during Passover. But this easy no-bake matzo cake is as easy to make as it is tasty. Get the recipe at Tastebook.
This cheesecake-brownie hybrid is a must for lovers of both desserts. Get the recipe at Kosher in the Kitch
Passover tends to be a bit meat heavy, but this matzo vegetarian lasagna is something vegetarians can enjoy this Passover. Get the recipe at Suburban Grandma.
This balsamic matzo panini with mango jam mixes the savoury and crunch of a sandwich with the sweetness of a fruit. Are you drooling yet? Get the recipe at Joy Of Kosher.
Baklava is pretty much the sweetest you can go. For those who love that syrup-sweetness of the classic dessert, try this Passover baklava cake. My Recipes.
Herbs can give even the plainest of foods a zing — especially something as dry as matzo. These herbed baked matzos will be ideal for simple snacking pleasures. Get the recipe at Skinny Kitchen.
Fruit lovers can get their fix with these raspberry squares perfect for breakfast, snack, or dessert. Get the recipe at Cara's Cravings.
In some cases, nuts like pistachios are kosher for Passover, which means only more salty matzo concoctions to enjoy. Get the recipe at Martha Stewart.
Who said you need bread for grilled cheese? Be sure to use lots of cheese to keep any dryness at bay. Get the recipe at Pop Sugar.
Don't cross deep-fried foods like fried chicken off your list just yet this Passover. Never underestimate the power of matzo meal. Get the recipe at Business Insider
Like they say,"put an egg on it." This matzo pizza is a creative spin on the classic eggs and toast breakfast that you wont have to (completely) sacrifice. Get the recipe at Martha Stewart
This matzo lasagna is more like a lasagna/sloppy joe hybrid. The Nest.
Dunk your matzo in some egg and fry it up for a Passover-appropriate french toast. While you're at it, smear some cream cheese between slices for a hearty breakfast or lunch. Get the recipe at Ccre8ov.com
This matzo mango salad is heavy on the guacamole and will make for the perfect nacho-substitute. Get the recipe at Joy of Kosher.
Put anything in a pita, and more often than not, you're good to go. Try the same with a mazo by opting for a grilled brisket matzo wrap. Get the recipe at ToriAvey.
Crepe and blintz lovers will obsess over these modern matzo blintzes that you can put just about anything in. Get the recipe at AliBabka.
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